Appealing to protesters to help restore normal life back in the country, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi says the unrest was costing the economy “billions of dollars”.
The demonstrations which started in early October in Baghdad and the south of the country has so far killed more than 250 people, driven by discontent over economic hardship and corruption.
In statement published on Sunday evening November 03, Abdul Mahdi said the protests which “shook the political system” have achieved their purpose and must stop affecting the country’s trade and economic activities.
“Threatening the oil interests and blocking roads leading to Iraq’s ports is causing big losses exceeding billions of dollars,” said Abdul Mahdi, warning that unrest was pushing up prices of goods.
Operations at Iraq’s main Gulf port, Umm Qasr, near the oil-rich city of Basra, which receives the bulk of Iraq’s imports of grain, vegetable oils and sugar, have been at a complete standstill since Wednesday.
Thousands of protesters have blocked all roads leading to the port. Police on Saturday used live fire and tear gas to try and disperse protesters and open the roads leading to the port but they failed to force them to leave.
The protests have broken nearly two years of relative stability in Iraq. (Source: The Straits Times)